Your Guide to Sustainably Get Rid of Old Clothes

There are so many different reasons why you may not want a particular piece of clothing any more, but not wanting something in your closet doesn’t mean you should ever just throw it away. If recent sustainability efforts have taught us anything, it is that there is no such thing as “away” and, therefore, it is every fashionista’s responsibility to sustainably and responsibly remove clothes from their closet. The good news is that you have options, and you have this guide:

1. How to Donate Correctly

It may seem like the most obvious solution for your old clothes is to donate them, but this poses a few problems. For one, poor-quality clothes do not offer value as a second-hand item. The same applies if the item in question is falling apart, stained, or otherwise in poor condition.

It is also important to remember that tons upon tons of clothes are packed up and shipped to countries in the global south, which, despite common belief, actually hurts local economies more than you think. For example, rather than having their own textile and clothing, they are awash with low-quality western clothes.

When donating, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it good quality?
  2. Is it clean and free of marks?

An obvious answer is that you can successfully donate it if you could sell it on. So rather than put it into a large clothes donations bin, find your nearest thrift store and donate it directly that way.

This has the added benefit that your clothing will find a second home while simultaneously providing charitable contributions for whatever charity that thrift store supports. Of course, you can sell it on directly and can even donate a proceed towards your favorite charity as well, so you have options.

2. How to Repurpose or Reuse

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your old clothes that don’t hold much quality value. You can repurpose jeans, tops, and more into a variety of things around your home, especially if you have a sewing machine. You can layer old shirts into a quilt; for example, use scrap fabric to make reusable bags or even rags to clean your home with.

3. How to Recycle

There are an increasing number of textile recycling options available, and you can use them for pieces that are poor quality and you don’t personally have a second use for. Something to remember is that, when it comes to genuinely recycling old clothes and turning them into new clothes, they need to either be 100% that material, or if the recycling center you go to has mixed bins, must match those. So get in touch in advance to know what items you want to get rid of can be 100% recycled.

Of course, even if the material itself cannot be 100% recycled, it can still have a second use. This material is often shredded and used in a variety of situations, like insulation.

 

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